Kent Breast and General Surgeon.....


Breast Pain (Mastalgia)

Breast pain is very common, affecting up to 70% of women and accounting for up to half of all referrals seen in a breast clinic. It is important to stress that breast pain is not usually a sign of breast cancer. The cause of breast pain is not clear but it can be either cyclical or non-cyclical.

Keeping a breast pain chart for at least two months is useful. Cyclical or hormonal pain occurs usually in premenopausal women who suffer increasing pain from mid-cycle which tends to improve at menstruation. The women experience breast discomfort, fullness, heaviness and lumpiness about three to seven days before each period. The breast is tender to touch especially in the outer part extending towards the armpit. Most women with mild to moderate symptoms are reassured and discharged after assessment. Those with severe symptoms may require therapy ranging from simple measures like a soft support bra at night to dietary manipulation and medication.

Non-cyclical breast pain usually occurs in older women and may arise in the breast itself or be referred from other conditions affecting the chest wall and ribs. There is no pattern to the pain which can often be localised to a specific spot. Most women can be reassured after careful assessment. A firm support bra is often helpful if the pain originates from the breast whilst medication may be required in some women.


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